Darren Collison says that in his seventh NBA season, he’s learned that some things are less important than before.
He’s not obsessed with everything said and written about him in the media, for example.
So does that mean Collison is fine with coming off the bench for the Kings? He’s fine enough with it not to make a fuss.
“Only because I obviously can start,” Collison said. “If I couldn’t start for teams, it probably wouldn’t matter as much. Winning is still the No. 1 goal, if I had a list, and I’ll go from there. The way I’ve been playing the last couple of years, obviously starting is very fun to me.”
Collison has been fun to watch lately. Twice recently, Kings coach George Karl has started Collison in the second half to spark the team.
Collison may have been the biggest reason the Kings won at Philadelphia last month. And starting Collison in the second half Wednesday at Memphis nearly helped the Kings win after they rallied from 21 points down.
“Darren’s playing well enough that you’ve got to consider starting him,” Karl said.
Sacramento has lost 12 of its past 17 games and hadn’t beat a team with a winning record in more than a month until knocking off Dallas on Thursday.
“Our back has been against the wall for this past month,” Collison said. “And I felt like everybody had to raise their level of play on offense and defense. I felt like that’s what it is, so I’m just trying to go out there and be as aggressive as I can and see what happens after that.”
Starting Collison with point guard Rajon Rondo is worth considering because the Kings have gotten inconsistent production from their shooting guards, while Karl has praised Collison since training camp.
Collison, who is averaging 13.5 points and 3.9 assists this season, has scored in double figures in 13 of his past 14 games. In February, he averaged 16.5 points on 60.0 percent shooting.
“He’s probably been our most consistent player,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. “His energy off the bench is keeping us in a lot of games. If we all as a group played at the same energy as him, I think we’d win a lot more games.”
It also helps that the Rondo-Collison pairing works much better than it did earlier in the season.
It can be tricky to get two point guards to play together effectively, but Collison has found his groove and shown he can be an attacking scorer while playing with Rondo.
“He’s a fast, up-tempo point guard who gets out and runs, plays defense; we can switch off who’s checking who, and I think we play well off each other,” Rondo said. “It took some time in the beginning trying to find the different niche, like who is getting the outlet pass, but I think we’re in a good rhythm right now.”
Collison was signed in July 2014 to start after backing up Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers.
But Collison has kept his edge coming off the bench. When he enters a game, he tries to punish the opposing team.
“You feel like you take anybody off the first unit with any team and put them on the second unit, that’s what they’re supposed to do,” Collison said. “It’s supposed to be just unfair, and I really try to dominate their second team as much as I can.”
That could lead to more time against the opposing starters.